Dangers of Leaving Your Home Vacant

(May 1, 2017)

vacant.jpgIt's not uncommon to encounter a situation in which you must move out of your home before it sells. You might be required to start a job in another area, or even another state altogether, before you’re able to get your home sold. Or perhaps your parent had to move to a nursing home or passed away and you’ve been left with their property, either empty or still full of their furniture and other belongings. Not such a big problem, right? It’ll sell when it sells.

Wrong. A vacant home is a magnet for theft and other damage, putting you in the difficult position of having to figure out how tomanage this risk until you can unload the house. In addition, most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover vacancies, leaving you financially responsible if something happens to your home.

Potential damages that may occur in a vacant home:

  • Copper piping theft - Copper has become very expensive, therefore, very enticing to steal.
  • Vandalism - People who don't have enough better things to do tend to figure out which homes sit vacant. Why vandalizing is cool, I don't know, yet it happens all the time.
  • Arson - Like vandalism, this is people up to absolutely no good. Mostly, arson is not because of an issue with the homeowner, it's because of a desire to cause harm and not caring about the conseuqences to you, the homeowner, or to themselves.
  • Water damage - If your house sits vacant for a long period of time without being checked, you can bet it will rain at some point. And given the amount of unusual and heavy rain we've experienced these last few years, water damage, when unchecked, could be serious and really expensive.
  • Burst pipes - Plumbing goes bad at a moment's notice. Again, a vacant house, unchecked for even a short time, can be disastrous. Imagine a leaking pipe under the kitchen sink for days, weeks or even months. That is serious damage!
  • Squatters - There are always people looking for a free place to stay and vacant houses are prime targets. Homelessness is a growing issue, and, unfortunately, until there is a better solution, squatting in other people's houses has become the wrong answer for many. It is VERY difficult to get squatters out. Even then, they may cause damage in retribution, on top of any legal fees.

As you can see it’s not such a simple prospect, moving out and leaving your home vacant. It not only introduces you as the owner to financial and liability risks, but also lowers your neighbors’ property values and potentially attracts crime to the area. It can also bring difficulty in managing showings and dealing with the sale transaction, especially if you’ve had to relocate a sizeable distance away.

If you’re worried about your home sitting vacant, then seriously consider selling your property or think about renting it out. Either way, it's much better than letting it sit vacant waiting for issues.

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Jennifer Shenbaum

Written by Jennifer Shenbaum

Jennifer Shenbaum is a real estate investor based in Southern California. She is a veteran of the housing market crash of 2007. Best of all, she offers free remodeling ideas to all who ask.

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